VOC Rallies for Religious Freedom in Asia

In July, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) participated officially in the first-ever “Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom” hosted by the State Department in Washington, D.C.

The gathering — led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and with a keynote by Vice President Mike Pence — convened leaders from across the human rights community and delegations from over 80 nations for three days of productive talks on how to combat persecution and ensure greater respect for religious liberty.

In coordination with the Ministerial, VOC hosted a Rally for Religious Freedom in Asia at the US Capitol in observance of Captive Nations Week, a tradition established in 1959 by President Eisenhower to recognize nations suffering under communist tyranny.

Our six speakers were: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and co-chair of the Congressional Vietnam Caucus; Sen. Ted Cruz (T-TX); Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, former prisoner of conscience in Vietnam; Bhuchung Tsering of the International Campaign for Tibet; Golog Jigme, Tibetan Buddhist monk, human rights advocate, and survivor of torture in Chinese detention centers; and Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress and laureate of our Human Rights Award.

Hundreds showed up both in person and virtually on Facebook Live, and the rally received wide press coverage including in The Hill, Radio Free Asia, and The Washington Examiner.

In his remarks, Pastor Chinh recounted how “my family and church have suffered years of persecution by Vietnam’s communist government.” Chinh was released in 2017 after serving six years in prison for ministering to minorities and daring to criticize his government’s ban on preaching in the Central Highlands.

Dolkun Isa described horrific ethnic and religious discrimination against the Uyghur people by the Chinese Communist Party, saying: “Religious belief is such an important part of one’s existence that it should not be controlled by the government.”

Sen. Ted Cruz spoke of his family’s flight from Cuba, nothing: “The thing that the apologists for communism never seem to notice is that the rafts in Key West are all going in one direction.”

Rep. Alan Lowenthal spoke of new efforts in Congress to respond to governments that oppress their own people, and vowed: “I will continue to fight until all prisoners of conscience throughout the world are released and free to express their views.”